JB, 24, is a biomedical engineer and a second generation Italian American from Philadelphia. She talks about the golden rule that shines a light on her life’s path, and talks about her recent breakup and her dreams for the future. Talking to her made me realize that authenticity can be an extremely attractive virtue. We ate at Panera Bread while we talked. Here’s the transcript of my face to face interview with her.
Heart: Since, we’re eating, lets get right into the topic. How many vegan friends do you have?
JB: Two of my uncles are vegan. They’re gay, they’re married to each other. And that might be all. I tried to go vegan for a while, but that didn’t go well at all. (Laughs)
Heart: What’s your favorite food?
JB: Macaroni and cheese. I make a really good homemade macaroni and cheese. So, you get this [brand name inaudible] pasta and you just need to layer it with some cheese like South American, American cheddar, mild cheddar is also really good. You layer that with a stick a butter and pour milk and bake it. I love Italian food. I’m Italian.
Heart: So, are you second generation?
JB: Yeah, my mom’s Italian. She came here when she was 6. So, yup, I’m very proud of my Italian heritage. My father is Irish and English.
Heart: Do you have a favorite restaurant?
JB: Um, can it be a type of food?
Heart: Yeah, do you have a favorite cuisine?
JB: Any Italian restaurant. (Laughs)
Heart: Have you been to Ippolito’s, I’m not sure if I’m pronouncing it right? I feel like its more of the good traditional Italian food than the Americanized fare.
JB: Like Olive Garden.
Heart: Yeah. (Laughs)
JB: (Laughs) I love Ippolito’s, my ex and I would go there all the time, we had our favorite spot, yeah. The food’s really good.
Heart: Do you binge eat?
JB: Yeah, yeah, I do. (Laughs)
Heart: Do you know the moments when you’re prone to it? Like, “Oh, I don’t feel good, I think I’m going to eat all kinds of stuff now.”
JB: Yeah, I’ve gotten better about it especially since I’ve started living on my own. When I’m home and I’m watching TV, I snack and don’t think about it and afterwards.. (Laughs) Of course, my mom makes all these big meals, so yeah. But, I’m training for half marathons, so, I try to watch what I’m eating, I’m running more, you know. But, its hard.
Heart: Thank you for being honest. Girls who work hard have to eat.
Heart: Have you tried Uber Eats? Its seems to be what suburban moms are using, atleast around where I live in Johns Creek. Especially on Friday nights, everyone wants to put their feet up, you know.
JB: Nope, I’ve seen it but I haven’t tried it. But in school, there’s an other food ordering service thing called Order Up, I used it all the time.
It’s in Penn State. Lots of college campuses have it. Yeah, its called Order Up, but I’m sure its very similar to Uber Eats.
Heart: How do you keep up with news?
JB: I’m actually pretty bad about it but I’ll see something on Facebook and then I’ll go and Google it to get more into it. I like Facebook because its so fast. But, everybody has an opinion, everybody’s sharing all kinds of stuff, so you really have to form your own opinion and not look at the bias and go see what happened.
Oh, and I listen to this morning show called “Elvis Duran and the Morning show”, their main station is Z100 in New York. But, they have local stations everywhere like in Philly its Q102. I listen to it on my radio. That’s my main thing, so every morning they’ve these little tidbits of news, that’s how I get most of my information at.
Heart: Do you’ve to tune in at a particular time of the day or is it your commute radio?
JB: It’s an app and you can play it whenever you want. And they are on Sirius XM too. So, I’ve that station in my car.
Heart: Do you own a TV?
JB: I do and I’ve cable but I never watch anything. I only watch Netflix, like on the Internet. Um, I also have Chromecast, and my dad has cable, so I stream from his app on my TV.
Heart: What do you watch on Netflix?
JB: So, I’m kind of like, I read an article, and I think that I might be the typical Netflix user. I get into a series and I watch it, and then in between series, I’ll find movies and little documentaries to watch. So, I’ll watch all the seasons in a series and watch some movies and other things before I start the new series when its available.
Heart: Youtube. Do you watch anything on You Tube?
JB: Um, I listen to a lot of music on You Tube. Honestly, if a video is posted on Facebook, I’ll go to You Tube to watch it. And normally, I only go to You Tube for music videos, to see if there’s any song I want to hear. That’s pretty much the extent of my You Tube.
Heart: Do you have a favorite female music artist or funny woman?
JB: Really, I listen to everything. I don’t really have anything specific I like.
Heart: So nothing on loop?
JB: Yeah, (Laughs), it varies week to week. I mean, I’ve my Pandora stations that I like. I mean I teach Zumba, I’m certified but I don’t have a class right now, but I love Merengue. And I put on Merengue on Pandora after work and dance to it to get all the stress out.
My favorite artists are Bruce Springsteen and U2, but I like the new stuff too. Yeah, so, I like a little bit of everything.
Heart: Have you been to any music festivals?
JB: I haven’t, but I’m going to see Luke Bryan, he’s a country artist. You might be familiar with his songs, he’s always on the radio.
Heart: All I’ve really heard on loop is my kids talking in what they make me believe are Georgia, Alabama and Texan accents, because they’re trying to educate me.
Heart: So, the country music concert, do you have company to go with?
JB: Yeah, I do. I’m going with two of my girl friends. But, then, I’ve also, last 2 times, I went to a Blink- 182 concert, and before that I went to a Bruce Springsteen concert, Carrie Underwood, so, there was Billy Joel and Madonna before that. Yeah, very old school. (Laughs)
Heart: Oh my goodness. So, where are you from originally? (The irony is not lost on me while asking this)
Heart: So, how did you become a fan of country music, because I thought country music was more of the … um…
JB: The South?
JB: Yeah, it is. But, we’ve stations up there too. Also, there are all these “hick town” places in Pennsylvania. There’s country music up there. But, actually I didn’t get into that music until later in high school. But, I don’t know, I guess, it just grew on me. I’ve listened to it on the radio since I was small. So, yeah.
Heart: Top 3 acronyms?
JB: I think, BTW (By the way), LOL (Laugh out loud) and OMW (On my way). Yeah. (Laughs)
Heart: Top 3 apps you can’t live without.
JB: Um, since I started running, my Run Keeper app, I track my miles with. Facebook and Snapchat.
Heart: Cool. What’s been trending among people you know. What do you see? Please no fidget spinners, that stuff’s for moms like me.
JB: (Laughs) I didn’t even know what they were and I saw a skit on SNL and “Oh, OK, that’s what they are.”
So, trending? Honestly, I’ll know about it from that radio show. They’ve a news segment and they’ve a “What’s trending” segment and I go on Pinterest once in a while and pick up stuff, but I say, that’s how I see the trends.
Heart: How much of your life is managed by your phone?
JB: Well, you know, back in high school and college it was a lot worse. But, since I’ve grown up, I really try to stay off my phone. The only time I’m on it is at home, and at the end of the night while I’m watching something on TV and just before going to bed. Honestly, I might be on it like 3 or 4 hours, but at work, I’m hardly ever on my phone. When I’m sleeping, I’m obviously not on it. (Laughs)
So, yeah. I’m definitely not addicted to it. I don’t have like a million Instagram followers, like, I don’t Snapchat my whole life, I don’t think the world needs to know everything that I’m doing.
Heart: Thank you.
JB: I do feel like a lot of people my age and younger feel that way and post everything. I’m thinking in 10, 15 years, I don’t want my kids to see all this stuff, you know.
Heart: What’s the most stupidest thing that you’ve seen that people have posted on Social media?
JB: Um, probably, just people drunk and posting stuff about that. I mean on Snapchat it will go away, but you literally are just naked and Snapchatted your friend that stuff, you know. And people don’t realize they’re being recorded and their friends are posting that stuff for everyone else to see.
Heart: Wow, that’s scary. I think I like my life better when I was growing up.
JB: Yeah, exactly. Everything’s now being recorded and out there.
Heart: And 15 year olds don’t know how to manage their time and now they’ve these super computers in their pockets.
JB: Yeah, no. They don’t. And you don’t have to be on it all the time. Honestly, you know with Instagram, everything’s filtered, everything’s posed, its so fake, and it makes all these younger kids think, “Oh, my life is not interesting enough. I’m not doing that awesome stuff.”
They don’t know that they just took 10 minutes to post that picture rather than doing that thing. I wish younger kids would understand that, because honestly, if I was that age and this was happening, I wouldn’t know its fake. It just makes me sick, that kids can get depressed, they feel like they don’t have any friends, they don’t get enough likes. Its not about that at all.
Heart: Facebook is already doing that to middle aged men and women. “Oh, I posted this awesome picture of mine, and nothing happened? Why?”
JB: Exactly, its ridiculous. You should not get your happiness out of how many likes you get on your picture. So, I don’t think of myself as a typical millennial. (Laughs)
I think I’m very responsible, very type A, very organized. And I don’t believe in posting everything on Social media. And I believe I’m on the cusp, but I’m technically a millennial.
Heart: Are you religious?
JB: I’m Catholic, so I believe in God. I go to church when I can. I don’t agree with everything in the Catholic religion, I think some things are old school and need to change. And I follow my personal philosophy of “Be a good person and treat others like how you want to be treated,” like that golden rule. That’s the way I see it.
But, sometimes, I hear something in the church, and “Um, I don’t agree with that.” But, that’s the way I was raised, so its comfortable for me. It provides a structure and a safe space. So, yeah.
Heart: So, are you expected to marry a Catholic?
JB: Its pretty, um, I think the goal would be that. Atleast in the church’s eyes, you can marry someone who’s not Catholic and that’s fine. And they can also get baptized if they want to. But, there’s no hard and fast rule that you’ve to marry a Catholic.
Heart: So your family has not set any expectations on you?
JB: Um, no. Which is odd because I’m Italian. OK, wait, let me rephrase that. So, my mom’s side probably does, right? Because they are old school Catholic. Like you marry a white Catholic guy, Italian preferably. But, my dad’s side, is just like, no restrictions, whatever, do your thing. And mom’s not super hardcore Catholic, so its going to be fine.
Heart: Do you have any siblings?
JB: I’ve a younger sister, her name is [redacted]. She and I are polar opposite in every sense. And we fought all the time when we were little, we’re getting closer now. She’s in college. But, when we were growing up, we would fight all the time. (Laughs)
Heart: How do you exercise?
JB: When I was younger, I played water polo, I was so much in shape back then.
Heart: Water polo?
JB: Yup, its super intense. Have you seen it before?
Heart: I don’t think so, I’ll have to look that up.
JB: So, its basically, you’re swimming, and playing football kinda in the water. So, its like wrestling, football, swimming, all in one. It has volley ball in it too. And you can only have the ball in one hand and you’re in 12 feet of water and its set up like a basketball for making points. So, yeah. You might have seen it somewhere.
Heart: Wow, is it a northern thing to do?
JB: Actually, its from the West and it has moved to the North East. And then its slowly trickling down into the Southern states.
And then I try doing Zumba, teaching Zumba. I’m now training for half marathons.
Heart: Nice. So, what’s your beauty routine?
JB: Um, I need to admit, I’m very high maintenance. I became that way once I got a job. I’ve money, so I can buy stuff. So, I’ve a product called Exuviance. I wash my face in the morning and I’ve a daily scrub. Its just a little pad for your face that has a little lotion on. Then I put my moisturizer. Then I put my under eye cream, my foundation, my blush, my bronzer, my eye makeup, my mascara, my eye liner, I’ll curl it if I have time.
I’ll do my hair, it takes a while. So, we actually know one of the doctors who invented it. The guy who founded it was the dad of one of our old neighbors. I’m living proof that it works. My skin has gotten so much better, it glows now, and I used to have scars and pimples.
So, I’m definitely a proponent of it. (Laughs) I really like it. Its pretty expensive, which is not good. But…
Heart: I’m a baking soda kind of girl, so don’t bother explaining this stuff to me.
Heart: But, as they say, time wasted on yourself is not a waste.
JB: Exactly, and oh, I definitely enjoy doing my makeup in the morning. Its kind of a little ritual for me. “Oh, let me calm down and get myself ready for the day.” And I believe that if you dress for the day, you do your makeup and look good, you will just feel better. You feel good about yourself and it puts you in the zone, so you can move forward. So, I definitely do that.
Heart: This is great. Where do you shop, groceries, or clothes?
JB: So, I love TJ Maxx and Marshalls. But, then I love my designer stores too. But, I shop in TJ Maxx and Marshalls more to stay in budget. What else? Macy’s, I go there every once in a while. For groceries, I go to Kroger, its close and convenient.
Heart: OK. What’s the farthest you’ve traveled from home?
JB: I’ve been to Italy once when I was 3. And I’m going back there in like 3 or 4 weeks. We’re visiting family for 2 weeks, so I’m really excited about that. I’ve been to Mexico and Canada too but this is the farthest.
Heart: For spring break fever, I suppose?
JB: (Laughs) No, it was for work unfortunately. Not the fun side of Mexico anyway.
Heart: What’s your line of work?
JB: I’m a biomedical engineer in Research and Development. So, I help design new medical devices.
Heart: How do you see yourself in 5 years?
JB: This is funny because, if you would’ve asked me this like 2 months ago, I would have had a lot different of an answer. So, I just got out of a 4 year relationship. You know, I thought we were coming up on the engagements, weddings and whatever. I would have told you, “Probably pregnant.”
But, now in 5 years, I’m hopefully engaged. I definitely want to get married but this breakup actually has been a blessing in disguise, because I’ve been able to focus on myself, just grow and have fun. I’m actually having so much fun, I’m doing so many more things, I’m meeting a ton of new people, so I wouldn’t have had that experience if I had stayed where I was.
Um, the only hard part is that all my cousins and friends are getting engaged and married and I’m still here, by myself, still single, but its OK. I mean, I’m still young. But, yeah, I think in 5 years, I’ll be 29, I definitely want to have a ring on my finger. (Laughs)
Heart: Was it possible to be positive right away?
JB: No, the hard thing is that he’s getting his PhD right now and the way it kind of worked was we were doing this long distance thing. He’s two hours away doing his thing, I kind of felt neglected, we were talking on the phone, things were getting annoying, um, so he just kind of said, “I don’t want a girl friend right now,” but, he loves me and I still love him. So, it wasn’t a bad breakup, you know. We need to figure out if it was meant to be, we will come back together, if not then we’ll find someone else.
And, I kind of felt guilty because, I did feel OK pretty quickly after. And my last relationship had lasted 3.5 years and the one before that was 2 years. So, I’ve always been in a relationship. I’ve never been single. Those breakups would kill me. It would take a whole year to get over stuff. In this one, maybe because I’ve been through stuff like this before, it was not so bad.
Heart: Maybe the long distance did it?
JB: Well, we’ve been long distance for most of our relationship. We met in Georgia when we were interns at [redacted] and then we went back to school. He went back to Mississippi state and I went back to Penn State. We were long distance friends and I came back to Georgia to work for [redacted] and he was with the California branch out there. So, he has now gone to [redacted] for his PhD and I’ve continued living here. So, we were always kind of long distance. So, that was not really a factor. He was busy getting his PhD and he’s still a student and I’m a working independent girl. You know, he was just not ready for that commitment. So, that was that.
Heart: Professionally, are you always trying to seek a balance between career and family?
JB: Yeah, I struggle because I do see myself in a very high powered position, I’m definitely a worker, I want to climb that ladder, get up there, um, I want to be a role model for women and you can do that, either route you go (working or staying at home). But, I guess, I can see myself going on business trips but I want the family too. I want it all. Everybody want its all, right? (Laughs)
I guess I haven’t really thought about it for the near future. It was there in my thoughts, but not right now. Maybe, I will end up back in the North East, with my family. That is one thing I’m definitely sure about to be with my family again. They move here or I move there, definitely family oriented.
And as women, we literally have to bear the kids, so we’ve to take time off. But, a lot of companies are becoming lenient on maternity leaves. “This is what happens, people have babies, we’ve to accommodate that if we want to keep smart hardworking women.” You know, especially, in a field like mine, where its mostly male dominated its nice to see that change, its getting implemented more. You know, our needs matter, its just human nature. So, don’t punish us for that.
Heart: Exactly. So, generally if you are on the look out for who’s out there and available, um, how do you.. Do you have a dating app?
JB: (Laughs) Yeah. So, I joined Bumble. Its a dating app. Its like Tinder except that the girl has to message the guy first.
JB: Yeah, I don’t know, I met two really nice guys over there, um, but nothing that I would push to the next level. And I met another guy through a mutual friend, but he’s moving away. And then my mom tries to set me up with all these guys, but I don’t want to meet anyone right away. I’m still not sure if my ex is not the right one. And I’ve this guy, 3 exes ago, his name’s [redacted] and we just kind of got together and I’m kinda curious if maybe he could be something? So.
Heart: So, do you communicate these feelings to them, or are you subtle?
JB: Oh, I’m not subtle. Oh no. (Laughs) I tell people, I definitely wear my heart on my sleeve and “I like you,” like that. Coz, I feel like that’s how I’m and if the guy can’t accept that then its not worth it. You know, I’m not gonna change to meet someone.
Heart: Do people generally your age keep a list of people they’ve gone out with or dated?
JB: Oh, it drives me crazy. So, dating is whatever, but everybody’s so liberal about sex now-a-days, “Oh yeah, I’ll sleep with you.” I’m not like that at all. (Laughs) And that’s just kind of, you know, I’m not comfortable, with my friends who do that, but I don’t think anybody keeps track of that. I do, but, yeah.
Heart: You just want meaningful interactions?
JB: Yeah, exactly. I rather have someone who cares for me. You’re giving yourself away, no way I’ll do that. So, yeah.
Heart: OK. How much of your relationship process do you let your phone handle? Oh, I see a read receipt, he hasn’t replied. He has already seen my story on Snapchat, what the hell, he hasn’t replied.
JB: (Laughs) Yeah, I definitely think about it, you know, I’ll check to see if he’s seen my story, and I look for someone’s name and “Darn it, I wish he saw it.” Even stuff like, “I just texted him, he hasn’t texted me back.” I’ll wait for 2 hours and text him again. But, I try not to worry too much, not think about it. That’s one thing in a relationship that made it real easy, we didn’t worry about that. If we weren’t talking 24/7, it was OK.
So, I get really jealous (Laughs), so if I find that he liked her picture and not mine, “What the heck, what’s going on?”
Heart: So, this is if a guy’s in a relationship with you and he’s liking someone else’s picture?
JB: Oh, no, no, no. So, if I’m texting or talking to someone, like there’s this kid called [redacted] and he, you know, we went out, we kissed one time, and I thought, “I like this guy” and he suddenly backed off. And then, I started ignoring him, I’m done with him and then he started texting me again and again. It was kind of annoying.
Heart: What age is this at?
Heart: Wow, this guy has to grow up a little.
JB: Yeah, I know right. (Laughs)
Heart: The topic of freezing eggs, has it crossed your mind?
JB: Um, yeah, you know, I don’t. There’s nothing wrong with it. I think, my parents were 30 when they had me. So, I don’t think I’ve thought about it that much yet.
Heart: If you haven’t thought about it, you don’t have to think about it now. I was just curious about your take on it. Is there a proverb that has been a guiding light?
JB: I guess, just be a good person. The motto again, “Treat others how you want to be treated.” This is what I’ve stuck with my whole life. Consider when you say something how others might feel. Don’t just spew out what you feel. You have opinions and emotions and you can’t make everybody happy. So, do your best.
Heart: Does that philosophy make you vulnerable?
JB: Sometimes, when people are being mean to me, I’m still nice to them, like, “Kill them with kindness,” that type of thing. Its kind of a fun challenge for me that I make them feel better. I mean, they weren’t born this way, something must have happened to put them in a bad mood. So, I mean a lot of it depends on how I’m feeling too. If I’m having a bad day, maybe I’ll say something, but typically I try to put people back up. I mean, I think that’s the way we all get better, right? Helping each other out.
Heart: Is this an inherited philosophy, from your dad or mom?
JB: Um, so its funny because, my dad will help anyone. He’s always there to help anyone, always volunteer and my mom’s the same way, just with different things. So, my dad will do it with complete strangers and my mom’s more with family and friends. She was the home room mom and making all those extra cup cakes and stuff. Go that extra mile, you know.
She actually made all my Halloween costumes, she’s just that kind of mom. Think a lot of that has come onto me. It hurts sometimes, because some people don’t deserve that help, so that’s the thing with my mom, she’s sometimes a floor mat for a lot of things because people don’t appreciate how much hard work goes into stuff. That’s one thing I want to change in my outlook.
Heart: Be more smart with your kindness?
JB: Exactly. (Laughs)
Note: Before you rate this episode, please consider if you would’ve been so open and authentic about your own life. Earlier episodes available at The Anonymous Manifesto.
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